Red Cross Emblem: Unauthorised Use Punishable by Law
Anil Gulati , 17 December 2007, Monday
The Red Cross emblem is being used by all without regard to its implications. Acting on a petition seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government, the Madras High Court has ordered issue of notice to the State’s Medical Council and Chemists.
ACCORDING TO media reports, the Madras High Court has ordered issue of notice to the Tamil Nadu Medical Council and the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association, acting on a petition seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to take steps to prevent the use of the Red Cross emblem by medical practitioners, pharmacists, hospitals and others in allied fields. In the petition it was submitted that the Red Cross emblem, a prerogative of the Red Cross Society and other designated users, was now being used by medical practitioners, pharmacists and others, though it was a punishable civil offence.
Not only in Tamil Nadu, all over India, the Red Cross emblem is misused. It is used by clinics, chemists, X-ray centres and anything allied to medical services. Many do not know whether they can use it and many do no know what it stands for.
Strictly speaking, if one uses the emblem, the implication is that one subscribes to the principles underlying the establishment of the Red Cross Society. Thus the entity using this emblem apparently enjoys the authorisation of the Red Cross National Society and offers free medical assistance. But the sanctity of the emblem is being marred with the users exploiting it as a prestige symbol. Hence the question, what is the Red Cross and who can use its emblem?
The Red Cross emblem was adopted in 1864 as a neutral sign to identify and protect relief and medical committees and army medical services. It was adopted to facilitate access to the wounded soldiers and other victims of war so that the much-needed assistance could reach them. The emblem is used by those belonging to the Red Cross movement and army medical services involved in humanitarian work, mainly armed conflicts and natural disasters.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, in its publication ‘Knowing the Red Cross Emblem (frequently asked questions)’ points out that it is not the emblem of the medical profession and its use is regulated by international and national laws. When components of the Red Cross movement use this emblem it signifies seven fundamental principles which underlie their humanitarian and relief activities during armed conflicts and natural disasters.
Who can use this symbol? The International Committee of Red Cross, military media service, their personnel, units, installations and means of transport, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the national societies and fist-aid centres which offer totally free medical assistance and are authorized by their national society can use the symbol.
The Geneva Convention of 1949 mandated the State parties to respect and ensure respect for the Red Cross emblem. India ratified this convention on October 16, 1950. The Indian law regulating the use of the emblem is called the Geneva Conventions Act and it became a law in 1960. According to Section 12 and Section 13 (under Chapter IV) of the Act, the misuse of the emblem is a punishable offence.
Also refer RED CROSS in Wikipedia